Gunning for 49er gold

Photo: On Edition
470 silver medallist Stuart Bithell and new crew Chris Grube talk 49ers
In the post-London 2012 game of Olympic sailing musical chairs, Stuart Bithell, Rochdale’s finest and one of the most talented sailors of his generation, is changing class. On the wire for Luke Patience when the cocky duo brought home a silver medal for Team GBR in Weymouth, Bithell has now teamed up with the lanky Chris Grube (aka Twiggy) to campaign a 49er for Rio 2016. Their aim is to become Britain’s first ever gold medallists in the Olympic skiff. “The last four years sailing a 470 with Luke has been a great stepping stone to my career as a sailor and the last year was great being selected and then putting a program together to try and win a gold medal. We came up with a silver medal which we are fairly happy with even though it isn’t the shiniest medal,” commented Bithell. The possibility of the Patience and Bithell duo teaming up again for Rio 2016 was always unlikely. Simply, they are too heavy for what is expected to be a light wind venue, possibly as light as Qingdao believes Bithell. “We were always on the heavier side of the crew weight on the international scene which was fine [for Weymouth]. We had a mixed regatta [in terms of conditions] and that was fine, but we feel that the fleet will get lighter for Rio and we won’t be able to match them because we were on a diet already...” So the silver medal winning duo have gone their separate ways, the jockey-sized Patience remaining in the 470 helm spot where God intended him and currently on the hunt for a new crew. “He is going to struggle to replace me!” quips Bithell, showing some of the smart mounted banter he and Patience became renowned for during the Games. “His heart is